25 July 2008
| Preston Dial - #85 – TE/H-Back – 6-3 – 223 lbs. – Mobile, AL – UMS-Wright – 1 Varsity Letter
Preston will be an immediate beneficiary of the new offense put in place by Jim McElwain
. Not only does McElwain make use of a lot of 2 TE sets and actually call for throws to the Tight Ends, but he employs the use of an H-Back, a hybrid TE & Fullback. Preston’s size and skill set make him ideal for this position, and look for him to get a bunch of time there this fall.
It is tough to really judge any of Bama’s TEs based on previous performance. The right side of Bama’s offensive line has been so inconsistently bad over the last 4 years that the TEs have seemingly had to spend more time acting as an extra offensive lineman than an extra threat in the passing game. Given that Preston has also had the handicap of being behind 3 other scholarship Tight Ends (Nick Walker
, Travis McCall
& Charles Hoke
), it’s not much of a shock that playing time has been scarce.
After a redshirt year in 2006, Preston saw action in 10 of the Tide’s 13 games in 2007. His first, and to date only, career catch came against Louisiana-Monroe. Almost all of his action came around the goal line, when Bama would go into a 3 Tight End set.
: How much the Tight Ends are able to truly be used in the passing game will once again probably depend on the development of a right tackle. Regardless, Jim McElwain’s
history shows a concerted effort to get the ball to the Tight End.
The use of an H-Back should give Preston more opportunities for playing time outside of the red zone, where he can make use of his size and strength to take advantage of a match up with a safety. Bama’s only scholarship fullback is Jeramie Griffin
, and in the new offense, he’s more likely to see carries as a short yardage tailback. This increases the importance of those guys that can play H-Back, as they would likely be the lead blocker for Griffin
Look for Preston to be more involved in the passing attack throughout the season as he is prepared for an even larger role in 2009. With both Walker
being Seniors, the Tide’s other Tight Ends will have to progress significantly in order to take over the job next season.
are entrenched as the co-starters at the position, but given Jim McElwain's
history of splitting his tight ends off of the end of the line to create match-up problems, and his history of using a lot of 2 TE sets, expect to see a lot of Bama's other TEs.
Transfer Colin Peek
is still fighting with the NCAA to get eligible for 2008, though the closer we get to the season, the less likely he is to win that fight.
That leaves Preston and redshirt Freshman Chris Underwood
to battle for playing time. (It is worth noting that there is a possibility of incoming freshmen Michael Williams
& Brad Smelley
also ending up at TE, though we won't know for sure until fall camp opens). Underwood
is, at this stage, more of a straight up receiving TE, while Preston has the ability to do all of the skills required of the position.
It is unlikely that he'll be able to pass either of the two entrenched Seniors, but look for Preston to be the #3 guy at TE, likely to see plenty of action. Also expect to see him catch 10-15 passes in 2008.